Working together, improving lives

November 2022

Healthcare Assistants, Support Workers And Nurses: Defining Roles In Healthcare

Working in the Healthcare industry, you’ll see lots of individuals provide quality care to people in the community, but it doesn’t mean their job titles and responsibilities are all the same. In this instalment of the Dean Healthcare blog, we’ll be exploring these roles, the responsibilities of them and understanding what makes them different and unique from one another.

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What is a Healthcare Assistant?

A Healthcare Assistant, often abbreviated as a ‘HCA’, is someone who cares for patients in a hospital, care home or patients home. Their duties include assisting patients with daily activities, including; washing, cleaning or feeding, as well as checking for vital signs and assisting nursing staff.

Healthcare Assistants are not required to have any formal qualifications, instead, full ongoing training is usually provided by their employer, which covers anything from food hygiene to safeguarding and more. However, a Healthcare Assistant will need great personal skills including; patience, good communication and a knowledge of how to keep calm under pressure.

What is a Support Worker?

A Support Worker is someone who looks after the wellbeing of people in their daily lives. Support Workers help people living with different physical abilities, learning and mental health needs to live more independently and support them in reaching their own potential.

Support Workers differ from Healthcare Assistants in a number of ways. Firstly, they don’t always provide personal care (such as washing or dressing) but instead provide supervision, encouragement, companionship and guidance. Support Workers normally work in community-based homes or in an individual’s own home (sometimes as part of a package of care or as a domiciliary provision). They’re also not likely to work in a medical environment. Those looking to offer social and emotional support in the Healthcare industry find Support Work is a great fit for them.

What is a Nurse?

It should be noted that the word ‘Nurse’ is a generalised term that groups together a number of different roles. Specific Nursing roles can include, but are not limited to; General Nurse, Mental Health Nurse, Learning Disability Nurse, Adult Nurse and Children’s Nurse.

A Nurse is an individual whose primary role is to provide care to people with life-long or medical needs. They assist with physical or mental needs and aim to improve a patient’s overall health and wellbeing. Responsibilities will include; preventing illness, treating health conditions, monitoring changes to the body and checking vital signs, all of which is monitored and recorded to aid in treatment-making decisions and provide a better quality of life.

In the UK, Nurses are required to obtain formal qualifications, with an undergraduate degree considered entry level in the industry. This is one of the biggest differences when compared with Healthcare Assistants. Typically a Nurse will supervise, inform and monitor a Healthcare Assistant and their actions. Nurses are also more deeply involved in the medical care of a patient, with more direct responsibility for the wellbeing of that person.

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What are the other roles I hear about?

Care Assistants are often a blend of support and healthcare roles, with duties that encompass parts of both of these roles. A Care assistant might support those who have learning disabilities, and those with medical conditions at the same time. Auxiliary Nurses are highly knowledgeable Healthcare Assistants that work alongside a nurse to provide care, normally in a clinical setting. Care Co-ordinators are usually administrative roles, often as part of a care facing role, where the individual is responsible for running rotas and keeping records. Activities Co-ordinators are people who are in charge of creating meaningful and fun activities within a care provision. Sometimes they are also care workers, but often this is a part-time admin based role. Personal Assistants are often privately employed carers through a package for an individual living in their own home. Depending on the needs of the service user, they may be responsible for supporting their day-to-day with scheduling or shopping, or involved in specific tasks such as personal care and physiotherapy.

What about progression?

Starting your career as a Healthcare Assistant or Support Worker means you’re exposed to a lot of different experiences in the industry with a wide range of unique situations. You may start out in one of these roles, but with the correct training and qualifications, as well as support and assistance from those around you and your employer, opportunities to progress could arise and working in a variety of roles could be a possibility! Nearly every Nurse or Manager in Health and Social Care started out as a HCA or Support Worker before gaining the qualifications needed to work their way up.

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For more information on working in the Healthcare industry or to hear about our latest roles at Dean Healthcare, get in touch with our friendly team today. Just visit the ‘Contact’ page and find your nearest branch and phone number. And be sure to follow us on all social media for more informative content like this! Just search for @deanhealthcare on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram.

You can now help support our Healthcare Assistants, Support Workers and Nurses and their incredible work by applying for our latest role. We're seeking an enthusiastic, proactive Recruitment Consultant to join our friendly team in Bristol! For more information, and to apply, please click THIS LINK HERE